Recipe: broccoli cheese

 

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We all know cauliflower cheese, right?! The lovely side dish almost mandatory at any British Sunday lunch.

Now just substitute the cauliflower with broccoli. Why? Well, mainly because then I can eat it. My stomach rules my life and has decided cauliflower is out of the question. Obviously I obey, as it’s pretty painful not to.

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But, I also discovered that using broccoli instead of cauliflower made the whole dish a lot lighter, even though the brassica is more or less covered with a heavy and delicious cheese sauce. And, served on it’s own with either some wild garlic bread, a few slices of prosciutto or a salad to make it more of a meal, it’s a perfect summer supper. Satisfying, healthy-ish (thanks Bon Appetit for coining this term) and lovely.

 

Broccoli cheese, serves 2 as a main course

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s excellent cauliflower cheese recipe.

2 medium heads broccoli

4 tbsp butter

4 tbsp plain flour

2 tsp Coleman’s mustard powder

salt and black pepper 

475 ml milk, whole milk or semi-skimmed

155 g grated strong cheddar

Pre-heat oven to 200C.  Trim broccoli and remove the core. Cut into 1 to 2-inch florets. Par-boil for 6 to 7 minutes until firm but tender. Drain and spread florets on a towel so that it can wick out as much moisture as possible. 

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk to combine; cook for 1 minute to ensure you get rid of the floury taste. Add mustard powder and black pepper. Drizzle in milk in a thin, steady stream, whisking the whole time so that no lumps form. Season with salt and bring mixture to a simmer while stirring with a whisk. The mixture should thicken. Reserve 2 tbsp of the cheddar and add the rest to the sauce a handful at a time, letting each handful melt before adding the next. Adjust seasoning if needed.

Place the broccoli florets in an ovenproof dish. Spoon over sauce  and sprinkle with remaining 2 tbsp cheese. Bake until until bronzed and bubbly, about 30 minutes. 

 

 

Orzo pasta with wild garlic pesto, courgette and feta

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I snapped this picture as I was throwing this pasta together for lunch the next day, but I must say it exceeded my expectations so much I wish I had allowed myself time to take a nicer picture.

This is another dish where the sum is (much) greater than the individual parts; it’s just a simple dish that works. I love every bite of the slightly al dente pasta coated in fresh wild garlic pesto, the crunch from the raw thinly sliced baby courgettes, the bigger bits of tender-but-not-too-tender broccoli and the slightly melted pieces of tangy feta. I urge you to try it for your next picnic, barbecue or quick weekday supper.

Orzo pasta with wild garlic pesto, courgettes and feta, serves 2

200 ml orzo 

2-3 tbsp wild garlic pesto

1 baby courgette, thinly sliced

4 stems tenderstem broccoli 

100 g feta

a little olive oil if needed 

salt & pepper

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. Put the broccoli in boiling salted water and cook until a little tender but still al dente and cut each stem into four. Drain the pasta in a sieve and pour it back into the empty saucepan. Stir in the pesto and add a little olive oil if needed. Add the courgette slices and the broccoli. Mix together and season to taste. Add the crumbled feta and stir once more before serving. 

Chicken noodles

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Most people probably already have a go-to chicken noodle or stir fry recipe, but not me. So I looked at one of Jamie’s and then amended it a little (that’s usually how I roll). The result was a nice mixture of soft noodles and chicken, crunchy carrots and peanuts and freshness from lime and coriander. And like most stir-fries, it takes mere minutes to make.

Chicken noodles, serves 2

Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s recipe.

oil for frying

1 garlic clove, chopped

a few spring onions, chopped

1/2 red chilli, finely chopped

1 lime, cut into wedges

2-3 chicken thigh fillets

1 carrot, cut into matchsticks

1/2  broccoli crown, cut into small florets 

2 egg noodle nests

1 tbsp soy sauce

1/2 tbsp fish sauce

a handful peanuts

1/2 bunch coriander, finely chopped

salt & pepper

Cook the noodles according to the packet. Rinse and put aside.

Heat up the oil in a wok or large frying pan. Trim the chicken and cut into bite size pieces. Fry them until golden. Add salt and pepper. Then add garlic and chilli to the pan and thereafter spring onions, carrot pieces and broccoli. After a minute or so, add the noodles and heat up.  Add soy and fish sauce, squeeze some lime and season to taste. Top with peanuts and coriander. Serve with lime wedges. 

Best ever grilled cheese sandwich

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Melted cheese. Is there anything more comforting in the world? OK, a hug from a dear one and a warm duvet perhaps. But next up is melted cheese.

If in the mood for the ultimate comfort food (maybe because of a heavy night the evening before or just feeling a bit meh), I have the perfect recipe for you. This grilled cheese is exactly how I want it. Fried bread, melted cheese oozing out on the sides and a little depth from cayenne.

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Making something as simple as a sandwich, it’s important the ingredients are of great quality. You want a nice sourdough bread and nice cheeses.

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Best ever grilled cheese sandwich, serves 2

4 large white slices of sourdough bread

salted butter

medium cheddar, coarsely grated 

comté, finely grated

small pinch of cayenne 

Spread one side of each slice of bread with butter. Place a large heap of grated cheddar on two of the slices, on the buttered side. Add comté and a pinch of cayenne. Place another slice of bread, buttered side down, on top so you have two sandwiches. 

Butter one of the outsides of each sandwich and place buttered side down in a frying pan on medium heat. Butter the other side of each sandwich and flip the sandwiches around after a few minutes. Lower the heat if needed. What we want to achieve is melted cheese in the middle and crispy golden bread on the outside. When done, remove the sandwiches from the pan. Add a layer of grated comté to the frying pan and put the sandwiches back in, creating a crispy layer of cheese on the outside of the sandwich. Repeat on the other side. Remove from the pan and cut in half (or four). Enjoy! 

Thai inspired lettuce parcels with mince, cucumber and chilli

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Sometimes, especially when the weather changes more or less daily between Indian summer and autumn, I find myself in the mood for something fresh and light but something more substantial than a salad. These little lettuce parcels with turkey mince, cucumber, spring onions and Thai flavours with a sweet chilli dip really hit the brief!

You don’t need to follow the recipe religiously, the most important thing is to taste the mince and find a good balance of flavours.I used turkey mince in these, since it is readily available in any supermarket but chicken mince or pork would work just as well.

I had some leftovers that made a great tortilla wrap for lunch the next day, I just put the dipping sauce in the wrap instead of dipping it and it’s just as delicious!

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Thai lettuce parcels with mince, cucumber and chilli, serves 4

500 g turkey mince

oil for frying

salt, white pepper

1 lime, juice only

1 1/2 tsp fish sauce

1 pinch of sugar

1/2 red chilli, finely chopped

3 spring onions, chopped

1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced

a handful coriander, chopped

2-3 little gems

Fry the mince in oil. Season. Mix lime juice, fish sauce and sugar in a bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Mix the mince with spring onions, chilli and cucumber and add the lime mixture. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Add chopped coriander and fill the lettuce leaves with the mince mixture. Roll into wraps and dip in the sauce below.

Sweet chilli dip, serves 4

300 ml creme fraiche

1-2 tbsp sweet chili sås

a pinch of salt

Mix creme fraiche and sweet chilli sauce after taste. Season with salt.  

Fried halloumi with new potatoes, spinach and fried egg

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Maybe you’re beginning to sense a theme on the blog?! Food that’s quick to make when one’s busy, perhaps? Well that’s what my life looks like right now. If I cook at all at the moment it’s either for friends or a quick supper.

Work will hopefully slow down a little this week, but June is still horrendously packed (albeit with fun things). Last weekend I had Maria, Daniel and Otto visiting and this weekend I’m going to Sweden for a flying visit as one of my dear friends is getting married. And so it continues…

That’s why sometimes I cook food that’s ridiculously simple. One you don’t even need a recipe for. But it is still very tasty, filling and satisfying and definitely fresher than a takeaway.

How to (just in case):

Boil the new potatoes. Melt butter in a frying pan and fry the (drained) potatoes golden brown. Add spinach and let it wilt. Season. In a separate frying pan, fry an egg, remove and then fry a few slices of halloumi on high heat until golden brown. Serve. 

 

Spaghetti with courgette and smoked salmon

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When work is busy I usually cook pasta for dinner. It’s quick and easy yet satisfying. This version with creamy spaghetti, courgette and cold-smoked salmon feels fresh after a long day at the office. If you cook two portions it allows for a packed lunch for the following day too. Bonus.

Spaghetti with courgette and smoked salmon, serves 2

2 portions spaghetti (I prefer de Cecco)

120 g cold-smoked salmon

1/2 courgette, thinly sliced

50 ml white wine

a dash of concentrated fish stock

50 ml cream

chopped chives to serve

Cook the spaghetti al dente. Slice the salmon. Pour the wine into a small saucepan and let the alcohol evaporate and the liquid to reduce a little. Add cream and stock, let reduce a bit further and season. Add the courgette slices and let them soften in the liquid. Drain the pasta and mix with the sauce and salmon. Serve with chives.